Sunday, July 11, 2010

Last day in Italy

Last day in will be sad to leave all the amazing sights here, but great to be home. Seems like we have been gone forever. Yesterday we spent most of the day at the about incredible sights! We did the big time touristy thing and went with a tour group through the Colloseum and Ancient City on Thursday...then met up with the same guy yesterday and got the whole Vatican tour. I think it was worth much info that we would have never known and never having to wonder if you have seen it all or not. Plus the guy was really cool and fun...Greg from Romania...who sounded like he was from Scotland. Go figure! Today we are mostly hitting the creepy underground stuff...should be a blast!

Friday, July 9, 2010

We are in Rome

We're in Rome...and it's hotter than Hades here!!! AC at home sounds great! Just thought we'd post something really quick while we're in a little internet cafe. Ethiopia was great, goodbyes here hard...miss the cool weather already! We're on our way to the Colloseum right now, hoping for a great time. Driving by it all in taxi yesterday was cool enough, can't wait to walk up to it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our last night in Addis Ababa is here

Well, our last night in Addis Ababa is here. We've been go-go-going all day long and just getting back to the guest house. We wrapped up our shopping and delivered the last of the feminine hygiene kits. Tomorrow we'll deliver the last of the baby kits and we' will have officially off loaded the approx. 400 pounds of humanitarian supplies that came with us...whew! We also went and spent a few hours with Tigist, Mikias and Yohannes' family today and said our goodbyes. Tomorrow we'll spend some more time with Rafe's brother Musay and say goodbye to him and all the guys at Brothers of Charity. The kids have been great and only driving us a little crazy on occasion. But I guess that's expected. All in all it's been an amazing trip...can't believe 2 weeks has flown by so fast. Sure has been an opportunity of a lifetime to come with the whole family! It will definitely be hard to get back into the routine of day to day life after seeing and experiencing all the things we have here. It sure makes us greatful for what we have at home and renews our drive to want to help others. So we leave tomorrow night after midnight, fly all night to Istanbul and then into Rome after a 3 hour layover. After 4 nights in Rome it'll be back to reality.BTW, this is a picture of Tigist, Mikias & Yohannes with some of their family.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Whoooo...4th of July!!!! Oh wait, we had no BBQ...and no freakin' fireworks! Unless you count the two sparklers at the Lem Lem School program. That would be a stretch though. But seriously, the program was awesome! There was traditional dancing, more modern type dancing, a mini fashion show, singing, skits and of course...the spee...ches by myself, Tina and Mia...yay (NOT!). Everything was great and we really enjoyed the whole program. Crazily enough, Rafe's kindergarten teacher now teaches at Lem Lem, spotted and recognized Rafe and came to talk to us later. He was really excited to see him...since it's been 7 years and all. Mia left a little early to go to a family party, which left us Amharic'less with our drivers...Oy vay! When Mia left early, she hit the Debre Zeyit Family Restaurant, where we'd ordered a nice big peach cobbler on Friday (they even serve Mexican food there) and headed off to her cousin's house. Sounds like she had a good time and got to hang out and mingle with lots of cousins and second cousins. As for the rest of us, we took Emebet and Eyursalem (my parent's COEEF sponsor girl) to Blue Top restaurant for a little lunch...even scored us ice cream cones for dessert. Afterwards we dropped Eyursalem home and headed to the Brothers of Charity to hang out with Musay and his friends. There were lots of card games, checkers, picture taking and goofing off...which lasted several hours. We all had a good time and plan on going back Wednesday for a last visit. After several days of up early in the morning and getting back to the guest house late, we decided to head back to the guest house and take it easy. Getting home by 5:00 was a little crazy, but we had dinner at the guest house, watched a few movies, downloaded pictures and just vegged in general. Just Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday left in Ethiopia and still quite an agenda to get on top of...with visiting mixed in at every spare second. I guess that means it's off to bed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Monkeying Around

Hello again out there! Thought we'd put another update out while we had a chance. Yesterday (July 2nd) afternoon we went and visited Tigist, Mikias & Yohannes' relatives. It gets pretty crazy in their neighborhood when we show up and usually quite emotional as relatives and neighbors show up in waves. Seems like each time we go there,... more relatives and neighbors that heard the 3 of them are in town show up. It's great to see them all recognize each other though. Mia helped us write down everyone's name and how they are related/ know Tigist and the boys. Tigist also did a little video interview with each person so that she could make sure and put names with faces. Now that I think about it, I don't think we posted about what went on earlier yesterday, so let's back track a little. First thing in the morning, we picked up Emebet (it's been great having her with us every day, she's such a good kid and really meshing with everyone). Then headed over to the Drusilla School to meet up with Fitsum again and take more pictures of COEEF students and help them put together postcards for their sponsors. Fitsum made sure the second girl we sponsor, Beza was there, so now our little crew is fairly complete. After the COEEF stuff we headed to Beza's house to see if she could hang with us. We talked to her mom and grandma for a minute and were off to Lem Lem School to have lunch with some of the administrators and teachers. BTW, the food was amazing...traditional Ethiopian stuff and the whole sha' bang! It's crazy how the food and coffee at people's homes are so much better than any restaurant. Well, I guess Lem Lem School isn't a home, but it was all home made. Today (July 3rd) the part of tourists were played by...US!!!! We picked up Emebet & Beza and headed south...through Nazret and to the Sodere Resort. It's a really cool natural hot spring...with freakin' monkeys EVERYWHERE!!! On our way into the resort we stopped and fed monkeys for a bit and had a lot of fun. They're beyond cute and took the food nice and gently. The cutest are the tiny little babies that are clinging to the underside of their mama's. Oh those little faces! All the kids swam for quite and a while and Tina & I started learning what a real pain in the butt those little monkeys could be. Ugh, thievin' furballs! You can't pull the tiniest piece of food out with being swarmed and they're pretty bold too. One flipped a little baggie of stuff out of Tina's hand as she was getting into her purse on our table by the pool and another took a dive for Sierra's purse later, but wasn't successful either. Tina wasn't feeling good towards the end of the excursion and was laying in the van...she heard a thud on the roof of the van and then saw a really big male monkey crawling into the window. I guess she started yelling at it and it went away pretty quickly. On the way home we stopped in Nazret at a nice hotel (Adama German Hotel)...sat in the A/C (Tina and Sierra both needed that...Tina with not feeling well and Sierra's sunburn...that's what we get for assuming that the weather down by Nazret is just as crummy as the weather every day in Addis) and had some really good food. The drive down and back was pretty long in the crammed Toyota Hiace van, but it was a lot of fun. Our drivers Berhanu and his brother (I cannot for the life of me remember his name) always take great care of us.Tomorrow it's up early for a Lem Lem School end of school year performance/presentation for families. I think Tina, Mia and I are expected to say a few words...oh boy. Probably go see Rafe's brother Musay again and maybe just hang at the guest house with Emebet and Beza...low key like. HAPPY 4TH EVERYONE!!! We'll miss the festivities!!!See More

The Hale Family Returns to Ethiopia Photos

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday the 1st of July here...uhhhhh...3:20 p.m.. Thought I would try and get a few pics online from yesterday. Today we picked up Emebet and hit the Merkato again in search of a sewing machine, which is proving to be more difficult that we originally thought. Well, at least to get a good one that should last. As with yesterday, Tina and I didn't venture out into the market. We don't want to pay the "Face Tax" Mia and Berhanu (one of our drivers) did the shopping. The rest of us went to a little place that I can only describe as a Starbucks knock off. Good stuff though and Tina finally got her Sambusas. Still no sewing machine though...the search continues.After the Merkato we went to the Kidane Meheret orphanage and talked with Sister Lutgarda quite a bit. She's a great lady and a funny sense of humor to boot. She's very short and when we left she said "You have to come way down here to hug me". Apparently we'd been wrong all these years about where her and Sister Camilla were from. They're not from Austria, but Malta. Sister Lutgarda is leaving back to Malta for 6 weeks the same day we are heading for Italy. It's her annual "vacation"...6 weeks of rest and prayer she says. Much deserved we're thinking. So at Kidane Meheret, the boys and I stayed outside playing basketball and soccer (there are 2 high school aged boys volunteering there for a few months from New Jersey and Washington D.C.). Tina and the girls helped gather all the older girls at the orphanage, gave them their feminine hygiene kits and discussed how to use everything. Sister Lutgarda had told us our timing was perfect. She said just a week ago a group of the older girls approached her about using something besides cut up t-shirts as pads, but she sadly had to tell them it wasn't in the budget. Needless to say the girls were over joyed to get their hygiene kits. Mia said they thanked her over and over. We left Kidane Meheret after being there a few hours and went to the Brothers of Charity home, where Rafe's brother Musay lives. It was a really good visit. We were able to sit down and watch some of his football DVDs...a little from the Seahawks and a little from the Wolfpack. Lots of cheering from everyone when Rafe was on screen. We went up to a more private area after that and gave Musay the gifts we had brought him, then switched on the video camera and basically interviewed him about Rafe's family history and past. With the help of our amazing translator (Mia), we got a lot of great information, including names of all his family members (mom, dad, sister and 4 other brothers). It was a little hard for Musay to talk about some of it, but he did a great job. I think he knew it was really important to Rafe.So now we're at the Hilton business center again using the internet. I'll try and up load a few pictures from yesterday. They'll probably be from when we were at the Lem Lem School taking pictures of the COEEF students and helping them fill out postcards to their sponsors. Hope all is well back home!Love,The Hale Clan